Q. It’s spring break time, and my son wants to go to Florida with all his friends. He’s been there, done that, and as he and his friends say, “bought the T-shirt”. He is a senior in college and I think it is time to start looking for his first professional job. He has friends who graduated last year who are still looking for work. Tell him it is time to get serious and get employed, and out of my wallet.
A. Last semester of senior year in college means many things to different people, and yours is a perfect example of how parents and seniors might not share the same vision of how to spend the time. This may be a great opportunity for you and your son to practice the fine art of negotiation – a great skill needed for a successful job search.
College seniors should start their job searches now, if they haven’t already. And college students hoping to find summer work should also begin an active search now.
‘Now’ is a relative term in college time, so if you want your students to begin the a successful job search consider bartering with them. The is not a lot of time between spring break and summer to look for work, and a summer with no job is a very long time, especially with limited cash. In partnership, students and parents might begin the process of documenting the job search steps that need to be completed with a commitment of how much time will be dedicated to the activity. Some of the steps can be completed before a great college style spring break – which shows good faith effort.
Let me give you and your college student a head start on some of the steps.
Step1. Clean up your web presence. No spring break photos on Facebook, or any other incriminating pictures, or posts of you or any of your friends. You might even have to add your parents as friends. No tweets that a hiring manager wouldn’t be thrilled to see.
Step 2. Create a LinkedIn account. These will be professional contacts who can help in your search. Build your network, and do not say “I want to do this on my own”. It takes a network. Learn this lesson now, and you’ll be ahead of job seekers for your whole career.
Step 3. Develop a compelling resume. This sales and marketing tool needs to tell the story of you as a committed worker. Learn how to write a very effective resume. Edit it, have professionals review and edit it. What does each line say to the reader? Give each item the “so what” test. Do they learn about your skills, or do they say so what?
Step 4. Identify and prepare your references. Select at least 5 people who can talk about the work you have done and can do. They need to be totally committed to saying great things about you to anyone who will listen. Make sure your references have your resume, and are familiar with your experiences. Stay connected with them so they know anytime they might be called.
Step 5. Use your resources. Meet your college career services staff. Learn what they teach. Utilize the range of their services. Ask them questions; ask them to edit your resume; ask them who they know; and ask them about successful students who came before you and how they made it happen.
Step 6. Network. Learn to network effectively. Read everything you can about networking, and practice. Practice with your friends, your references, and your career services professionals. Develop this skill to expert level.
Step 7. Success.
Step 1 can be completed before spring break; Step 2 can be started as you pack. All the other steps will lead to success. You get to decide when you start the next steps, and the timeframe that will get you to the last step in the process – for this time.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.